Laura hails from Juarez, Mexico, and says that originally, she wanted to become a teacher. “I have always liked nutrition, eating right and cooking,” Laura says. “My parents had a food-service business for many years. When I started going to college, I learned about dietetics and really liked it; so I decided to put teaching and nutrition together.” Laura attended New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, New Mexico.
While working with diabetes patients, an old friend from college called Laura, and asked her about joining DaVita. “Renal had always interested me, and it was perfect timing,” Laura admits. “I toured the facility and have now been working here for three years. I really like it. The most challenging aspect of my job is finding the motivator for a patient to improve his or her outcomes; to improve their quality of life and longevity. When patients have good outcomes and I am partly responsible for those accomplishments, I am really rewarded. I feel great when patients tell me they feel better.”
Laura feels she makes a difference in patients’ lives by being there and offering her knowledge as their own personal resource to improve their health. “I enjoy teaching about the renal diet, and working along with people, through the hoops, improving their outcomes. My approach is very personal. The single most important thing patients can do to improve their health is follow their diet. There is a Chinese proverb, ‘He that takes medicine and neglects diet, wastes the skill of the physician.’” Laura thinks there is a lot of wisdom in that saying.
Many dietitians like Laura have found an activity or an approach that works in a fresh new way with patients. “I give Phoz Dollars to my patients,” Laura explains. “Phoz Dollars reward good phosphorus levels. Patients love to buy things from my little Phoz Store with the play money they have earned from their efforts.”
Laura has been with DaVita for three years and says that every day she loves what she does. “I have learned so much since starting with DaVita,” she says. “I like learning new things. Learning makes you young and I would love to be around for many years to come. Every so often I pass out crossword puzzles with nutrition information: high phosphorus foods to avoid, high potassium foods, good protein foods to choose and things like that. When patients return the solved puzzle, I usually give them a little prize. I have one patient who is an 84-year-old Hispanic female. One month last year, when it was time for her to bring her crossword puzzle back, she told me she forgot it on top of the table that morning, so I told her not to worry, to bring it next time. When I checked with her the following treatment she told me, “You are not going to believe what happened!!! My dog ate it!!!” She was so serious, I couldn’t believe my ears—the oldest excuse in the book. So I gave it to her again and it took her a couple of weeks to bring it back and get her prize.”
Central City was the very first dialysis clinic in Texas. Laura feels that the patients really make it special. She adds, “There are a few teammates who have worked here since it first opened about eighteen years ago.”
Try Laura’s Chicken Lo Mein. You can throw together a fresh, nutritious meal from leftovers and no one will know but you!